Grammar schools given controversial £50m expansion fund
Grammar schools are to be handed £50m as part of a controversial expansion programme.
The selective state schools are in line to receive hundreds of thousands of pounds each to expand existing premises so that they can take on new pupils, under new plans unveiled by the Department of Education.
In return for the cash injection each school will be expected to submit plans showing how they will use the funds to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the plans would “make sure every family can access a good school.”
"By creating new schools where they are needed most and helping all great schools to grow, we can give parents greater choice in looking at schools that are right for their family - and give children of all backgrounds access to a world-class education," he added.
If each of England’s 163 grammar schools signed up for new fund, they would be in line to receive a £300,000 share of the £50m pot.
But critics have lashed out at the announcement, saying that the plans are an attempt to revive Theresa May’s previous policy of allowing new grammar schools to be set up - a proposal that was dumped after fierce opposition from parents and policymakers.
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner accused the Government of “pursuing its own vanity projects”.
“Just weeks after abandoning their own guarantee to protect every school from cash cuts, the Tories have excluded the vast majority of schools from any extra funding,” she said.
“The continued obsession with grammar schools will do nothing for the vast majority of children. It is absurd for ministers to push ahead with plans to expand them when the evidence is clear they do nothing to improve social mobility.”
Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Education Union, slammed the new plans and said ministers had decided to fund grammar schools at the expense of other state secondary schools.
“The grammar school corpse has climbed out of its coffin once again, despite evidence of the damage that selective education causes,” he said.
“In the face of such overwhelming evidence, it therefore beggars belief that the Government has announced it will plough £50 million to expand the number of places at existing selective grammar schools.
“Schools up and down the country are desperately short of funds. This is money that would be better invested in ensuring all schools could provide for the basic needs of their pupils without having to ask for money from parents.”